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Places of Interest
In spite of its small size, Gozo has a surprising abundance of historical sites, coastal towers, churches, as well as one of the archipelago's best-preserved prehistoric temples. Even tiny Comino has its own unique sites of historical significance or natural beauty to offer.

The list below includes some of the major places of interest on Gozo and Comino. It is by no means exhaustive, as the curious traveller will surely discover.



World Heritage Sites


Megalithic Temples of Ggantija



Museums

Cathedral Museum - Citadel, Victoria
Folklore Museum - Citadel, Victoria
Museum of Archaeology - Citadel, Victoria
Natural Science Museum - Citadel, Victoria
The Old Prison - Citadel, Victoria
Folklore Museum - Gharb
Maritime Museum - Nadur
Museum of Toys - Xaghra
Ta' Kola Windmill - Xaghra



Churches and Religious Sites

St George's Basilica
Ta' Pinu Basilica
The Cathedral
Xewkija Church




Fortifications and Towers

Comino Tower
De Redin Coastal Towers
Fort Chambrai
Kenuna Tower
The Citadel




Theatres

Astra Theatre - Victoria
Aurora Opera House - Victoria



Cinemas

Citadel Cinema - Victoria



Sports and Activities

Gozo Sports Complex
Gozo Stadium



Local Crafts

Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village



Cultural Attractions

Gozo 360




Natural Attractions

Calypso's Cave
Ninu's Cave
The Azure Window
The Inland Sea
Xerri's Grotto



Film Locations

Azure Window
Blue Lagoon - Comino
Ramla Bay
The Citadel



Cathedral Museum

The Gozo Cathedral Museum has more than 2000 items on display, including the Cathedral’s archives, magnificent paintings, clerical vestments and a silver vault. Among the paintings are several by well-known local artists: Giuseppe Hyzler, Michele Busetti and Tommaso Medion.

Constructed between 1697 and 1711, the Cathedral is a fine Baroque structure in the form of the Latin cross and is built entirely from the local limestone. The sanctuary was built on the plans of the Maltese architect, Lorenzo Gafa.

A tall belfry with five bells at the back of the Cathedral replaces the more traditional and common two belfries at the front, while a 1739 painting on the interior of the temple gives the impression of a dome, when in reality the roof of the building is flat.

Another attraction of the Cathedral is the statue of Santa Marija (The Assumption of Our Lady), which was undertaken in Rome in 1897.




Folklore Museum

The Folklore Museum exhibits a wide range of items depicting the domestic, rural and traditional ways of life of the Maltese and Gozitans in past centuries.

The exhibits displayed on the ground floor levels relate to rural trades and skills, such as agriculture and stone-masonry. Various traditional agricultural implements, including sickles, spades, winnowing forks, shovels and ploughs, together with a selection of grinding mills are on display.

There are also traditional stone-dressing tools, as well as a large selection of tools used by carpenters and blacksmiths. The mezzanine floor exhibits domestic Gozitan crafts, such as lace making, weaving and bookbinding.

The first floor exhibits items relating to hobbies such as hunting, as well as the modelling of miniature churches, replete with religious accessories. There is also an interesting selection of traditional costumes, a collection of elaborately worked clay statuettes, an ex-voto collection and a number of furniture items.




Museum of Archaeology

The Gozo Museum of Archaeology illustrates the cultural history of Gozo from prehistoric times to the early modern period.

The ground floor is devoted to the Neolithic Period, the Temple Period and the Bronze Age (5200–700BC), exhibiting a selection of decorated potsherds, pottery vessels, stone and bone implements and pendants from various settlements and tombs. The Bronze Age section displays a group of miniature clay containers and a decorated double-pot, as well as some fragmented clay votive anchors.

The first floor is devoted to the Phoenician, Punic, Roman, Medieval, and Knights’ periods. The collections on display include jewellery, coins, marble statues, inscriptions, oil lamps and part of a limestone olive-pipper.

The collection also includes a number of inscriptions, the oldest carved in Punic characters during the second century BC to commemorate the building and restoration of sanctuaries.




Natural Science Museum

Situated behind the law courts at the Citadel of Victoria, Gozo, the Natural Science Museum is situated in an old house, the origins of which may date back to the Aragonese period.

The geology on exhibits includes marine organisms deposited on the sea floor between 35 and 5 million years ago, as well as fragments of fossil bones from Ice Age elephants and hippopotami. The centrepiece is a selection of stalactites and stalagmites from Gozitan caves. Two other sections on this floor are dedicated to human and animal evolution as well as marine life.

The second floor exhibits an ornithology display; a small collection of stuffed and mounted birds, the majority of which are migratory and most of which are now legally protected species. The entomology room holds a small but impressive collection of exotic insects, butterflies and moths.

The last display is dedicated to the flora and ecosystems of the Maltese Islands, particularly of Gozo.




The Old Prison

The Old Prison is situated at the Citadel, overlooking Cathedral Square and adjacent to the law courts, to which it was originally connected.

In its present form, the prison complex is divided into two sections: the entrance hall, which served as a common cell in the 19th century and a freestanding block with six individual cells. The prison was in use from the mid 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century.

Soon after their arrival in Malta, the Knights of St John started making use of this prison by dispatching their rowdier members ‘to cool down therein’.

The individual cells, next to a central courtyard and surrounded by a narrow corridor, are still well preserved, almost in their original state. The walls of the cells and corridors in the old prison are covered with graffiti, which is the largest collection of historical graffiti in one single place on the Islands.




Gharb Folklore Museum

The Gharb Folklore Museum is a privately owned unique early 18th century historical house with 28 rooms. A tour of these rooms gives the visitor a glimpse of times gone by with exhibits such as the miller's room, an antique press room, a carpenter's workshop and a myriad of other memories from Gozo's past. The Gharb Folklore Museum (found at Pjazza Zjara tal-Madonna) is a private owned museum found in the core of the village. Its 28 rooms are full of all kind of antique tools and artifacts. It is really worth visiting.



Maritime Museum (Tenger?szeti M?zeum)

The privately owned Kelinu Grima Maritime Museum has a myriad of exhibits, among which one can find rare and priceless articles such as authenticated pieces of timber from Lord Nelson's ship "HMS Victory", the "Constitution", which was the first US warship, as well as one of Lord Mountbatten's gold epualettes which he wore during the period of duty in the Meditarrenean.

The hundreds of exhibits in the museum were painstakingly and laboriously collected by Kelinu Grima, a one time primary school teacher, who spent something like 65 years collecting maritime memorabilia. The extent of the collection, which includes models, uniforms, photographs and vessel parts, may be gauged by well over 300 vessel crests that adorn the museum walls.




Museum of Toys

This small privately owned museum in Xaghra was originally set up by Susan Lowe in Devon, England in the 1970's. It started with one doll and today it boasts toys from all around the world. The name Pomzkizillious comes from Edward Lear who made up this word to describe the coastal scenery of Gozo while visiting the Island in 1866. (Edward Lear is a world famous illustrator of natural history books, writer & illustrator of children's verse and a landscape painter who visited Malta on many occasions).

The earliest objects on display are a late 18th century Maltese Doll with carved wooden head and some Italian Presepio and figurines dating from 1790's. Among other attractions there is a 1930's Noah's Ark, a "Hornby" Train Set and Edwin's "Dinky" vehicles, a pressed paper "Hunting Scene" & "Zoo" which have survived over 100 years and a set of soldiers made in the 1970's but dressed in the uniform of the Swedish Army in 1700's. A scarce set of unmarked Lead Cricketers and other lead toys including Zoo & Farm Animals, Cowboys & Indians, Aeroplanes, Ships & Soldiers and an Ambulance Set about 1890's are also on display. One can also see some optical toys, 1790's dolls, soft toys made by Steiff, Lenci and Kathe Kruse, and a few clockwork tin toys from the 1920/30's (Schuco & Lehmann).




Ta’ Kola Windmill

The Ta’ Kola windmill is a step back in time to the trade of the miller and a fine example of the rural economy and domestic life of Gozo in centuries past.

Built in 1725 and named after the miller who lived and worked here (in Maltese ‘mithna’ means windmill and ta’ Kola means ‘of Nicholas’ – Nicholas’ Windmill). The mill consists of a rectangular building that incorporates a circular tower some 15 metres high. Of the twelve windmills built by the Knights, only the Ta’ Kola windmill in Gozo still remains in good working condition. The windmill is now available to show visitors how these mills worked.

The Museum also houses a wide range of tools, some of which were originally manufactured by the owners of the mill. On the first floor, the living quarters of the miller have been recreated using traditional furniture and items related to Gozitan crafts, such as weaving and lace making.




St George's Basilica

The parish originated in medieval times (definitely before 1450) and the foundation stone of the present church was laid in 1672, rightly referred to as the marble basilica, as it is entirely covered with marble.

The bronze and gold gilded canopy over the high altar is indeed impressive, but the main attraction is a statue of the patron saint, St. George, sculpted in wood by Pawlu Azzopardi in 1838. It is the first titular statue acquired by a parish church in Gozo.

All paintings in the dome and ceiling are by Giovanni Battista Conti of Rome. Mattia Preti, Giuseppe Cali, Michele Busuttil, Giuseppe Fenech, Francesco Zahra, Fortunato Venuti, Injazju Cortis, Ramiro Cali', Filippo Cosimo, Giuseppe D'Arena, Salvatore Bondi', Roberto Dingli and Stefano Erardi are other famous artists.

The liturgical feast of St. George Martyr falls on April 23rd.




Ta' Pinu Basilica

The Basilica of Ta’ Pinu is the most famous place of pilgrimage for the Maltese Islanders. Its origins go back to a day in June in 1883, when a woman heard the voice of the Virgin Mary in an old chapel. In the following years, many miracles and acts of grace were manifested at the site.

Many believe that the prayers said in the chapel saved Gozo from the plague, which had stricken Malta at that time. The locals therefore decided to build a larger and more magnificent church on the site in honour of the Blessed Virgin. Funds were raised from Gozitans, including those living abroad and works on the new church began in 1920, with voluntary labour from the local community.

In 1931, Ta’ Pinu was consecrated and a year later Pope Pius XI raised it to the status of Basilica. The original 16th century chapel was fully integrated into the new church.




The Cathedral

The Citadel’s fine Baroque Cathedral is a masterpiece designed by Lorenzo Gafa’, the Maltese Architect who was responsible for the magnificent Cathedral of Mdina. The site on which it stands may well have been that of the Roman Temple of Juno, mentioned by Cicero in his writings.

Its floor is made up of a mosaic of marble tombstones and ecclesiastical emblems, while its ceiling has a remarkable trompe l'oeil painting, depicting the interior of a dome that was never built.




Xewkija Church

The Rotunda dedicated to St. John the Baptist is Xewkija's distinctive landmark and parish church. Tourists and visitors flock year round to visit the church and its attractions. Its elegant dome, 75 metres high, with a 28-metre diameter, and a circumference of 85 metres, is the third largest unsupported dome in the world. The interior is richly decorated with fine sculptures and modern paintings. The floor is in polished Carrara marble and the main altar is also carved in precious marble. The church was built in replacement of an older church, parts of which were faithfully reconstructed using the original stones and can be viewed at the rear of the Rotunda. The church was built from Maltese stone by local masons and craftsmen and completed in 1971.



Comino Tower

The Santa Marija Tower on Comino forms part of the early system of towers which the Order set up to facilitate defence and communication between the Cittadella in Gozo and Mdina. It later became a key location of the system of towers built along the coast. The decision to build this Tower was taken by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1618, and was financed by the Grand Master himself, by the sale of the brushwood on the island and from the profits made by the resettled farmers. The site chosen was some eighty metres above sea level. The walls of the Tower are about six metres thick. The Tower is surrounded by a thick, high rubble wall made of loose stones, which gave the impression that the Tower was surrounded by a ditch. During the British period the Tower was important for the protection of the anchorage and communications between Gozo and Malta, together with Fort St Agatha and Fort Chambrai. It was during this period that the internal fabric of the Tower was significantly changed, and it seems likely that it was used as an isolation hospital at some point, while the lower chamber was converted into a stable for animals. . Din l-Art Helwa has decided to thoroughly restore Santa Marija Tower and to preserve this historical monument and unique landmark situated in beautiful countryside with some spectacular views for enjoyment by all. This project is being sponsored by the Malta Maritime Authority and may take up to three years.




De Redin Coastal Towers

The coastal towers were built during a span of sixty years and can be easily classified into two distinct groups that reflect two separate concepts of coastal defence strategy. The first group were massive squarish towers fitted with heavy pieces of artillery and garrisoned by a sizable detachment of regular troops. These large towers were built not only to guard the major bays susceptible to invasion but were also expected to engage the disembarking enemy with their powerful guns while their garrisons were required to harass and reconnoitre the enemy.

In the period between 1620 and 1649 the Knights had also introduced a much smaller type of coastal tower intended to serve solely as a permanent lookout post rather than as an isolated stronghold. The new watch-towers built during the rule of Grand Master Lascaris, but paid for by the Universita, were intended to fulfil a clear-cut role, enabling the Order's engineers to standardize and perfect their design from the elongated Lippia-type watch-tower to the more squattish example at Wied iz-Zurrieq. The latter was to serve as a blue-print for the chain of thirteen watch-towers built by Grand Master De Redin and designed to relay warning signals all the way to Valletta. The limiting factors that had determined the reduction in the size of the coastal towers and the change in their role were basically ones of manpower - the Order did not have the manpower to post large detachments of troops at every possible landing place. These lessons were soon to be forgotten in the beginning of the 18th century when the Knights again embarked upon the fortification of every bay and inlet around the island, when batteries, redoubts and coastal entrenchments were then the new order of the day.




Fort Chambrai

Fort Chambrai was built in 1794 at the expense of the Baillif Jacques Francoise de Chambrai and was intended to be the new fortified city of Gozo. As time went by the fear of corsair raids diminished significantly and people started inhabiting villages. Consequently the city was never built and the fortifications were then used to house soldier barracks and later a mental hospital. At present Fort Chambrai is being converted into a tourist resort.



Kenuna Tower

Located on a high ridge on the outskirts of the village of Nadur, this tower was built in 1848 and served as a telegraph link between Malta and Gozo and not as a fort.

Recently, Kenuna tower was completely restored and the surrounding area was landscaped to create a garden which includes a variety of local plants and shrubs. This location also provides one of the most magnificent views of the Maltese Islands.



The Citadel

The Citadel in Gozo owes its roots to the late medieval era, but the hill has been settled since Neolithic times. After the Great Siege of 1565, the Knights set about re-fortifying it to provide refuge and defence against further attack. Until 1637, the Gozitan population was required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. In later, more peaceful times, this restriction was lifted and people settled below its walls, creating the prosperous town of Rabat, now known as Victoria.



Astra Theatre

Inaugurated in 1968, the Astra Theatre (or Teatru Astra) offers a number of important cultural activities throughout the season on Gozo, most notably opera and its annual Festival Mediterranea.

Local talent is extensively featured and encouraged while visiting companies and a number of international artistes have, at one time or other, performed on the Astra stage.




Aurora Opera House

A large theatre renowned for excellent operas; it also stages drama and other events.



Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village

Local crafts such as handmade lace, hand-knitted cotton or woolen sweaters and blown glass are sold at the Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village, found in the village of Gharb.



Gozo 360

The Gozo 360 is a spectacular 25 minute sound and vision experience that brings the Island of Gozo to life. This show concentrates on this little island in the sun , on the fascinating history, crafts and culture. It gives a glimpse of Gozo's past and an insight into Gozo of today. The show is being offered in nine different languages.




Calypso's Cave

This cave is situated in a cliff face, a short distance from Xaghra and overlooks the red sands of Ramla Bay. This cave is assumed to be the cave referred to by Homer in `The Odyssey' where Calypso, the beautiful nymph kept Odysseus as a `prisoner of love' for seven years. The cave's interior and exterior are not too impressive but the magnificent views are worth it.



Ninu's Cave

Ninu's Cave, is an underground cave in Xaghra. Discovered in 1888, this cave has strange yet colourful alabaster stalactites and stalagmites.

The cave is 24 metres long and reaches 18 metres in width and is located within private premises, to the left of the church and visitors are shown around by a family guide.




The Azure Window

The Azure Window is another spectacular natural landmark in Dwejra, along with The Inland Sea and Fungus Rock. The Azure Window at the end of the cliff, is a giant doorway, through which one can admire the blue expanse beyond the cliff. It must be one of the most photographed vistas of the Islands, and is particularly spectacular during the winter, when waves crash high inside the arch. The sea around is very deep and of a dark blue hue, which explains why it is called the Azure Window. The rocks in this area are encrusted with fossilized crustaceans, evidence that most of the island was once covered by water. In front of the Azure Window is the Blue Hole, and The Chimney, two of the most popular dive sites in Gozo.



The Inland Sea

The Inland Sea is an inland lagoon in Dwejra, and is perhaps the archipelago's most spectacular natural landmark. The Inland Sea, and Dwejra Bay itself, were created millions of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed. The shallow inland lagoon is linked to the sea via a 100 metre cave in the cliff. On calm days, small fishing boats carry visitors out to sea through this tunnel, in order to see Fungus Rock and the Azure Window. The sea is used by fishermen and bathers, and is also a very popular diving spot. Overlooking the lagoon is the Chapel of St Anne, built in 1963 on the site of a much older church.



Xerri's Grotto

Discovered in 1923, this cave is known for its strange and colourful alabaster stalactites and stalagmites. The Grotto is to be found at a depth of 9 meters and the entrance is via a spiral stone staircase. The owners normally give a quick tour pointing out the unusual geological forms created over the millennia. Part of the excavations was carried out during the Second World War when the owning family used the cave as an air raid shelter.



Blue Lagoon

On Comino are the sheltered, dazzlingly blue waters of this small inlet, which has appeared on screen many times, most recently for a diving scene featuring Madonna in Swept Away and a spearfishing scene set in ancient times for the mini-series Helen of Troy. Boat trips from Gozo and Malta to Comino enable you to take a dip in the lagoon. Also on Comino is St Mary’s Tower, which is featured in The Count of Monte Cristo.



Ramla Bay

One of Gozo’s most beautiful and peaceful beaches, the golden sands of Ramla Bay were the location for one of the most dramatic moments in the BBC’s biographical drama Byron, for a scene showing the flaming funeral pyre of the poet Shelley.



Cittadella

This late medieval, hilltop citadel, which encloses a number of historic buildings and offers an unforgettable view of Gozo, has been a popular screen location, most recently for the BBC’s Byron, in which it doubles for a fort in Greece, 1811.